SpaceRef Reader’s Comment:

A “press release” on your site says that Australian Rodd Millner plans a high altitude parachute jump that “will become the first man to break the sound barrier unaided.” Although his planned altitude and speed may very well set a new record (assuming everything goes as planned), he will not be the first human to break the sound barrier unaided. United States Air Force Colonel Joe Kittenger holds that honor, which he earned during a 102,800 ft. altitude parachute jump with Project Excelsior on August 16, 1960.

In fact, based on the quote of Mr. Millner in the article, it sounds like he plans nothing more than to reproduce the tests done by Col. Kittenger forty years ago–but wants to claim it as a “first.” The only real difference between the first jump and Mr. Millner’s planned jump is the higher altitude and the addition of high-quality film equpment (Col. Kittenger’s jump was also filmed, but on much older equipment). I don’t mean to detract from Mr. Millner’s parachuting skills: I’m sure he is a expert. But he won’t be the first person to do this, just the most recent person.

For reference, I offer the following US Air Force Museum web pages:




Jack Burke, Marietta, Georgia


Fearless Australian
ex-commando, Rodd Millner, will jump from the blackness of space and parachute
130,000 feet (40,000 metres) back to earth in the most audacious and
spectacular human adventure ever attempted.

In challenging the boundaries of science and technology, Millner will
free-fall from the vacuum of space, through the frigid air of the earth’s
upper atmosphere before finally descending to earth.

During his astonishing descent, where he will reach a speed of between
1600-1800 kilometres per hour (994 – 1118 miles per hour), Millner will become
the first man to break the sound barrier unaided before opening his parachute
to fall safely to earth.

Millner’s amazing adventure, known as “Space Jump,” will be filmed on 70mm
film and High Definition video tape to create one of the world’s most
breathtaking giant format films to be produced.
The film will be produced by
international film company, Becker Entertainment.

In March 2002, Millner will ascend from just outside Alice Springs, in the
centre of Australia, in a special high altitude helium balloon manufactured by
the Australian Defence Force Academy.

As Millner climbs into space, he will gain a bird’s eye view of
spectacular Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the north east and the magnificent Kakadu in
the far north of the Northern Territory.

The special balloon will be the size of two football fields in dimension
and could accommodate two jumbo jets side by side.

It will take Millner approximately two and a half hours to ascend to
130,000 feet (40,000 metres) in his special balloon before taking less than
10 minutes to parachute to earth.

Wearing a special high-tech suit, Millner will become the fastest unaided
man, the highest skydiver, the longest free-faller and the highest balloonist
ever to live.

The top secret Space Jump project has been 12 months in its research and
development and will be managed by some of the most experienced high altitude
balloon operators in the world and backed by one of the finest aviation teams
ever assembled.

Using the latest robotic and film technology, Millner’s special Space Jump
suit will be equipped with a series of cameras to film his extraordinary

In addition, there will be:

  • special remote controlled cameras mounted to the balloon gondola
  • hot air balloon platforms to 10,000, 20,000 and 30,000 feet (3048,
    6096 and 9144 metres)

  • high altitude Lear Jet filming up to 40,000 feet (12,192 metres)
  • a team of sky divers filming from 40,000 feet (12,192 metres)
  • low altitude plane and/or helicopter filming launch and descent shots
    from 10,000 feet (3048 metres)

These cameras will result in millions of viewers around the world
experiencing Millner’s heart-stopping journey to the edge of space and back
again in the most spectacular giant format film ever produced.

Project Director of Space Jump, Walt Missingham, said millions of dollars
had already been invested into the project.

“We have involved a special team of experts across a wide range of
scientific and technological areas to ensure this project is successfully
conducted with optimum safety and with spectacular visual effect,” said

To arrange interviews with either Walt Missingham or Rodd Millner, please

A graphic featuring details of Space Jump is available at